Council Survey Shows Commercial Property/Casualty Rates Melting in Summer Heat: CIAB

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 19, 2010 — Excess capacity chasing market share in the commercial property/casualty marketplace has resulted in another quarter of declining renewal pricing, according to The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers’ second quarter Commercial P/C Market Index Survey. On average, renewal rates dropped by about 6 percent in the second quarter, compared with a 5 percent decrease in the first quarter of 2010.

“It’s the same old story,” said Council President Ken A. Crerar. “Carriers continue to fight aggressively for new business as capacity flows into the market. It’s like someone forgot to turn off the spigot. No one seems to know when the reservoir will dry up, but in the meantime, it’s definitely a buyers’ market.”

Commercial renewal pricing for small, medium and large business accounts continued to decline in the second quarter, compared with the first quarter of the year. Large account rate declines were again slightly more than the other accounts, but pricing for all account sizes was soft, according to The Council’s survey data. All individual commercial lines included in the survey experienced rate decreases, compared with the previous quarter.

Prepared by Barclays Capital Equity Research using Council survey data

Brokers across the country reported that capacity was plentiful for all lines:

“New carriers continue to enter the marketplace, further driving rates down. The capacity seems endless at this point.”

“Carriers have lots of capacity for new business, but also don’t want to lose renewals. If there’s competition they will lower price.”

“Appetite for premium is at a desperate level. New capacity continues to come into the market (inexplicably) and there is not enough premium to feed all the mouths.”

“There is an abundance of capacity for D&O and other management liability coverage. Carriers are seeking to maintain market share by cutting premium and expanding coverage.”

Buyers found good deals not only on pricing last quarter, but on terms and conditions as well, according to survey comments.

“Carriers are open to improving deductibles, terms and conditions in hopes of being able to keep premium flat,” said one respondent.

Another broker saw “lower deductibles, broader coverage terms, more liberal terms.”

Still another remarked that there are “generally broader terms, no additional restrictions in coverage.”

There was no notable change in customer demand for insurance in the second quarter, the brokers said. Only 26 percent of those surveyed said demand was up — about the same response as in the first quarter.

The economy and credit crisis remain the top concern of brokers across the country.

Click here for full survey results with charts.

About The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers

Founded in 1913, The Council is the premier association for commercial insurance and employee benefits intermediaries. The Council represents the leading commercial brokers and agents in the United States and abroad. Council members annually place 80 percent of all commercial property/casualty premiums in the United States and administer billions of dollars in employee benefits accounts.